Thursday, 16 August 2012
Pusser's - A Drop of Nelson's Blood in Cowes Week
Back to Work - Stiff Drink Time
Right. Where were we? If you're back from your summer break, like me, you're probably avoiding work and considering running off to the Philippines to start a boat hire business. Don't despair, you can hang on to that holiday feeling and keep reality at bay with the right attitude and a stiff drink.
Particularly appropriate in Cowes Week would be a nice tot o' rum, what with all its naval associations. Bum and 'baccy' optional.
Pusser's - Rum and the British Navy
Pusser's, based in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, have been producing rum to the old Admirality recipe of the British Navy for over 300 years, but the rum only became available to the public in 1979. They use the traditional methods and recipe for making authentic Royal Navy rum.
Most people associate rum with delicious cocktails, but I enjoy Pusser's 15-year-old rum, the single malt of rum, in a small barrel-shaped tumbler (as above), neat and without ice. Fantastic.
Rum and the Royal Navy - A History Lesson
For more than 300 years, sailors of the Royal Navy were issued a daily rum ration - a tot - by the ship’s Purser (or Pusser in sailor's slang).
Prior to 1740, the daily tot was a pint of neat rum. Before and after battle a double tot was issued. Appalled at the drunkenness of British sailors, in that same year, Admiral Vernon ordered the rum ration to be watered down. Lime juice and water were sometimes added to the ration - the first cocktail? The concoction became known as grog after his nickname, coined from his habit of wearing a grogram coat.
The daily grog ration had shrunk to an eighth of a pint when it was finally abolished on July the 31st 1970. A day known as Black Tot day.
Pusser's to the Rescue
In 1979, Charles Tobias, sailor-adventurer and rum-maker, obtained the rights and blending details of the Royal Navy’s rum from the Admiralty. He formed Pusser’s Ltd on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to make rum in exact accordance with the Admiralty’s specification. The recipe is 100% natural using no flavouring agents and the rum has gone on to win awards around the globe.
Pusser’s uses a distillation process similar to that used for producing single-malt whisky to make its pot-stilled rum.
The rum is available in the traditional strength of 54.5% ABV and a lighter 42% ABV suitable for cocktails. The 15 year-old Pusser’s comes in at 40% and was launched in 2007.
Navy Rum Lore - Nelson's Blood
Navy rum is also known as Nelson’s Blood. Folklore has it that a hole was made in the barrel of rum preserving Nelson's body after the battle of Trafalgar so that contents could be drunk - including Nelson's blood.
Tweedy's Thought: Let's reintroduce the tot ration to the Royal Navy. They deserve it. And, hell, let's make Trafalgar Day a new bank holiday while we're at it.